God can do more in five seconds than we can do in five hours or months or years. This is one reason the habit of prayer is wise. Sometimes we do not get the five-second breakthrough because we do not ask.
To be sure, God ordains to do many good things through hours or months or years of labor. Prayer is not meant to replace toil. For example, God wills that a chapter be read, or a meal prepared, or a friend visited in the space of hours not seconds. He wills that a house be built in months not hours. He wills that a child be reared in years not months.
But there are breakthroughs which could come in seconds. They often take us hours or days or months — if they come at all. I have in mind especially the breakthroughs of insight that open a world of life-changing truth and practical wisdom.
All of Us Have Blind Spots and Blind Moments
Many obstacles to joy and fruitfulness are owing to the fact that we cannot see reality the way it is. We cannot see the meaning of a biblical teaching. Or the meaning of a tragic event. Or the meaning of a friend’s rebuke. We are blind to it. The breakthrough doesn’t come. We may study and think for days or weeks or months, and not see reality any differently than when we started.
I have tasted this frustration dozens of times in trying to understand the Scriptures. I may be preparing a sermon, or pondering a devotional text in relation to some besetting sin, or thinking about a promise of God in connection with a lingering disappointment. I look and look and study and think. And I don’t see it. The breakthrough doesn’t come. Or it may come after days or weeks of seeking. Or not.
But other times — many times — in my desperation I have gone to my knees and called out for insight. I have pleaded, Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things in your word (Psalms 1[19:18]). Touch me with your salve that I may see (Rev. [3:18]). Enlighten the eyes of my heart (Ephesians [1:18]). And in the twinkling of an eye, the veil has been lifted. I see something that I had never seen before, though it lay right before me. The pieces come together.
Consider two analogies that shed light on what is happening here.
Life Is Always More Than You See
The first is optical illusions. Look at this one.
Perhaps, you are looking at a picture of a young woman facing away from you. You may look for hours and not see that her jaw is the nose of an old woman, and her ear is the old woman’s eye, and her neck-band is the old woman’s mouth. Then, in the twinkling of an eye you see the old woman.
Written by John Piper
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